Making its League of Legends Champions Korea debut, Ever8 Winners fell to the Afreeca Freecs in heartbreaking fashion on Wednesday, with the Freecs starting Week 1, Day 2 with a 2-1 series win in Seoul, South Korea.
Afreeca Freecs (1-0, 2-1 match record) started the season with a surprise Draven pick for AD carry Ha "Kramer" Jong-hun, but Kramer couldn't stop Ever8 Winners from dominating the early game. The newly-promoted EEW played around mid laner Park "Cepted" Wi-rim's Syndra well, especially jungler Kim "Malrang" Geun-seong's Lee Sin. The mid-jungle duo combined for several early kills, giving EEW the fuel it needed to jump out to a small gold lead. EEW seemed unsure of itself in the mid game, almost allowing Afreeca to jump into the lead, but consistent picks for EEW kept it in the driver's seat. It took two Baron kills, an Elder Dragon with three Elemental Drakes, and Cepted's game-high 43,100 damage dealt to enemy champions and 8/1/7 KDA (kills/deaths/assists), but EEW finally managed to take Afreeca down in a methodical 43-minute slugfest.
Afreeca's quixotic teamfighting composition looked poised to run away with Game 2 as top laner Jang "MaRin" Gyeong-hwan's Rumble ran rampant over the top lane, solo-killing EEW's Kwon "Helper" Yeong-jae's Gragas three times before 15 minutes. Snowballing throughout the early game, Afreeca did whatever it wanted in the mid game, occasionally disrespecting Ever8 Winners (0-1, 1-2 match record) with sloppy decision making. All of this came to a head when EEW picked up back-to-back Baron steals at 32 and 42 minutes, with Cepted's Orianna and Malrang's Graves taking one each. Suddenly, MaRin's early flame horizon didn't matter as momentum wildly swung in EEW's favor. In the end, the Baron turned out to be Ever8's undoing as it got caught attempting to take a third Baron, getting roasted by MaRin, en route to his whopping 44,700 damage dealt and MVP honors as Afreeca survived a potential comeback to take Game 2 in just under 50 minutes.
In a crucial Game 3, Afreeca's bot lane stepped up in a big way, picking up a couple of kills on EEW's duo lane while knocking down the first two turrets of the game. With a 2,000-gold lead at 20 minutes, most of it on Kramer's 4/0/1 Ashe, Afreeca's teamfighting composition took full control of the mid game. Afreeca finally seemed to hit its stride after securing a textbook Baron play with Lee "Kuro" Seo-haeng's Taliyah, taking towers and fights in the late game to increase its economy to a nearly 6,000-gold lead. Afreeca still showed plenty of mistakes from earlier in the series, not respecting Ever8 Winners and overextending, but exhibited its veteran status in taking down the LCK rookies. With Kramer's 8/1/5 KDA for 76 percent kill participation leading the way, Afreeca closed out a tumultuous series with a 35-minute Game 3 win.
Afreeca will look to carry momentum from this win when it faces KT Rolster on Saturday at 4 a.m ET, while Ever8 Winners try to bounce back against MVP at 4 a.m ET on Sunday.